When I did my 99c Countdown Deal of Yseult two months ago, I promised to do a summary post after this round of promos was over. Last week, the third week-long promo ended, and now I have put together my results to share with you, along with some conclusions about running a 99c sale. I did not apply for a Bookbub ad for any of these promos, since part of my motivation in testing ad sites like this is to find alternatives to Bookbub. I have had Bookbub ads before, and I know that they are effective, but they are very difficult to get, not to mention very expensive.
Without further ado, here are the numbers for the three promos I did in the last two months:
Yseult, Aug. 30 – Sept. 4 (total spent: $98)
Aug. 30 – Nothing – 2 sales
Aug. 31 – Book Barbarian ($8) – 27 sales (29 total)
Booklovers Heaven (Free)
Manybooks.net – (Free)
Sept 1 – Blog and Facebook – 11 (40 total)
Sept 2 – Books Butterfly ($50) – 45 US + 6 UK (85 total) + 6 UK
Sept 3 – Nothing – 1 (86 total) + 6 UK
Sept. 4 – Bargain Booksy ($40)- 30 US + 1 UK (116 total) + 7 UK
Summary: I did not quite break even on the ads, but Yseult stayed in a couple of top 100 lists for the rest of the month and continued selling. But the big advantage of the increased visibility was in pages read: over 11,000 for the month of September. In August, when I didn’t do any ads, it was 2500.
Chameleon in a Mirror, Oct 4-10 (total spent: $48)
Oct. 4 – Nothing – 1 sale
Oct. 5 – Ereader News Today ($20) – 27 sales (28 total)
Oct. 6 – Book Goodies ($5) – 11 sales (39 total) + 1 UK
Oct. 7 – Posted to long list of FB pages (free) – 4 sales (43 total)
Oct. 8 – Choosy Bookworm ($18) – 6 sales (49 total)
Oct. 9 – Sweetfreebooks ($5) – 6 sales (55 total)
Booklover’s Heaven (free)
Oct. 10 – More FB pages (free) – 8 sales (63 total) + 1 UK
Summary: I got closer to breaking even on this Countdown Deal, ending up only $3 shy of earning out. But I have subsequently had only a handful of sales and 3500 pages read. CIAM dropped out of its top 100 lists much quicker. Part of the problem may also be, however, that I need to get it into a couple more niche categories somehow.
Shadow of Stone, Oct 15-22 (total spent: $22.99)
Oct. 15 – None – 1 sale
Oct. 16 – BookGoodies ($5) – 2 sales (3 total) + 2 UK
Oct. 17 – The Midlist (free) – 42 sales (45 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 18 – ContentMo ($1.99) – 11 sales (56 total + 3 UK)
Reading Deals (free)
Oct. 19 – Facebook sites, etc. – 5 sales (61 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 20 – Book Barbarian ($8) – 17 sales (78 total + 3 UK)
Oct. 21 – BettyBookFreak ($8) – 2 sales (80 total + 3 UK)
The ROI on this sale was pretty fantastic, mostly because SoS managed to get approved for a free Midlist ad. I scheduled the promo accordingly and booked the other ads around The Midlist listing. Still early days yet, though, to say what the long term effect will be, although it already seems to be dropping in rank faster than Yseult did after its promo.
Here are some other ad results for 99c sales I’ve had in previous months, with the disclaimer that the oldest are from last December and could be quite different now:
Shadow of Stone:
12/16/14 – Fussy Librarian ($14) – 8 sales
12/17/14 – BKnights ($5.50) – 4 sales
Chameleon in a Mirror:
2/24/15 – BKnights ($10.50) – 8 sales
6/2/15 – ManyBooks ($20.00) – 28 sales
Island of Glass:
6/30/15 – Robin Reads ($10) – 13 sales
As you can see from this list, most advertising sites don’t earn out. On the other hand, getting your book to a high enough ranking that it will stay in a couple of top 100 lists for a while is worth paying more for your ads than you earn. Nonetheless, several of these sites were very disappointing to me in terms of ROI, and I do not intend to use them again unless I start hearing rave reports on places like Kboards. The biggest disappoints for me were Choosy Bookworm and BettyBookFreak, which I had both heard good things about. Perhaps those sites are better for mysteries or romances than they are for fantasy, but I for one won’t be going back for a while.
Another thing to take into consideration is that as soon as they start getting a better reputation, may advertising sites raise their prices so much that they no longer become a good deal. I was quite pleased with the results of my Book Barbarian ads — at $8. But they have since raised their prices to $25. 17 sales for $8 looks very different than 17 sales for $25.
Sites I will definitely be using again (unless they raise their prices too much) are
The Midlist,* ManyBooks, ENT, ContentMo, BooksButterfly and Robin Reads. I would also like to try and get a slot with Ereader IQ and Pixel of Ink eventually, to see how well they do. POI used to be what BookBub is now, and while it is no longer the star for promotion, I’ve been hearing good things about it.
Finally, I would like to point out that if you can scratch the money together, it’s much more worthwhile to throw as many effective ads as possible at a promo. Given the results of the above Countdown Deals, I’m suspecting you need a bump of at least 100 sales to create any kind of lasting effect in terms of visibility for your book.
In conclusion, I highly recommend checking out Nicholas Rossi’s list here — and participating in his survey when you do paid advertising. We indie authors have no other recourse than information when trying to make it in this incredibly competitive business. If we share our results, we’re in a much better position to judge which sites might be useful, and which will just be a money sink.
* The Midlist has sold their mailing list to HarperCollins and is no longer promoting indies. You can read more about it here.